Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


verb re·al·ize \ˈrē-ə-ˌlīz\

Simple Definition of realize

  • : to understand or become aware of (something)

  • : to cause (something) to become real

  • : to achieve (something, such as a goal, dream, etc.)

Full Definition of realize


  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 a :  to bring into concrete existence :  accomplish <finally realized her goal> b :  to cause to seem real :  make appear real <a book in which the characters are carefully realized>

  3. 2 a :  to convert into actual money <realized assets> b :  to bring or get by sale, investment, or effort :  gain <realized a large profit>

  4. 3 :  to conceive vividly as real :  be fully aware of <did not realize the risk she was taking>

re·al·iz·able play \ˌrē-ə-ˈlī-zə-bəl\ adjective
re·al·iz·er noun

Examples of realize

  1. They did not realize the risk that was involved.

  2. He finally realized the scope of the problem.

  3. She realizes how much things have changed.

  4. Do you realize how difficult that stunt is?

  5. You just have to realize that you can't always get what you want.

  6. She slowly realized what he was trying to say.

  7. He realized a lifelong dream by winning an Olympic medal.

  8. He finally realized his ambition to start his own business.

Origin of realize

French réaliser, from Middle French realiser, from real real

First Known Use: circa 1611

Synonym Discussion of realize

think, conceive, imagine, fancy, realize, envisage, envision mean to form an idea of. think implies the entrance of an idea into one's mind with or without deliberate consideration or reflection <I just thought of a good joke>. conceive suggests the forming and bringing forth and usually developing of an idea, plan, or design <conceived of a new marketing approach>. imagine stresses a visualization <imagine you're at the beach>. fancy suggests an imagining often unrestrained by reality but spurred by desires <fancied himself a super athlete>. realize stresses a grasping of the significance of what is conceived or imagined <realized the enormity of the task ahead>. envisage and envision imply a conceiving or imagining that is especially clear or detailed <envisaged a totally computerized operation> <envisioned a cure for the disease>.

think, cogitate, reflect, reason, speculate, deliberate mean to use one's powers of conception, judgment, or inference. think is general and may apply to any mental activity, but used alone often suggests attainment of clear ideas or conclusions <teaches students how to think>. cogitate implies deep or intent thinking <cogitated on the mysteries of nature>. reflect suggests unhurried consideration of something recalled to the mind <reflecting on fifty years of married life>. reason stresses consecutive logical thinking <able to reason brilliantly in debate>. speculate implies reasoning about things theoretical or problematic <speculated on the fate of the lost explorers>. deliberate suggests slow or careful reasoning before forming an opinion or reaching a conclusion or decision <the jury deliberated for five hours>.

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up realize? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


February 8, 2016

to clear from accusation or blame

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!


Which of the following refers to thin, bending ice, or to the act of running over such ice?

pince-nez duvet spindrift kittly-benders
Name That Thing

10 quick questions: hear them, spell them, and see how your skills compare to the crowd.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.